Bringing a new baby home comes with a lot of excitement, and a lot of unpredictability. These changes in your life are bigger than you can even imagine before the baby comes! You previously lived your life for yourself and your partner, but now both of you have an adorable and amazing tiny human demanding your attention.
One of the biggest mistakes new parents make is they forget to nurture their relationship. I mean, something has to give, and it’s often your time for each other!
It is inevitable: someone in the relationship will think the other person is slacking. Sometimes we feel our burden is huge, and our partner is too lazy or relaxed.
There will be tension, disagreements, and hard times. But there will also be times when your heart feels like it’s going to burst through your chest with the amount of love you feel. Hang on to those moments, and the rest will fall into place!
My husband and I have been together for 9 years, and have been married for over four. In the time we’ve been together, we’ve dealt with a few life changing medical issues, college, infertility, several job changes, a few moves, and two babies. A lot can happen in a short period of time! These changes can be stressful on each of us individually, but also as a couple.
Throughout all of this, our love for each other has grown tremendously. We’ve gone through everything together, and I know I can always depend on him for love and support.
We are no marriage experts by any means. I am a labor nurse, he works in consulting, and we have our disagreements like any couple. But we have a marriage that works, and we both feel happy and content with our life!
At least once a week, one of us says, “we have an awesome life, don’t we?” We are blessed beyond belief, and we know it!
When I decided to write this post, I asked him what he thought. Together we brainstormed some things that we feel has made our marriage stronger since having kids, and I have elaborated on those conversations throughout this post.
Keep lines of communication open
When we first brought home our oldest daughter, there were many days of tension. I mean, how could he not know what I need him to do?
When she was about 3 months old, I broke down crying to him. I told him I felt like he was distant and clueless, and I am drowning in the responsibilities of parenthood. He confessed he was clueless, and wants to be a better help, but he simply doesn’t know how.
It was then I realized that I was assuming he knew what I was thinking, or what he needed to do, and I was frustrated that he was making the choice not to be helpful. In fact, he felt panicked by his fatherly duties, and needed guidance and reassurance that he was doing the right thing.
I started giving him very detailed, clear instructions of what me and my daughter needed, and within a few weeks he was a rockstar dad. He is an amazing father and husband, and once I understood his hesitations, I could support him in assuming his role.
I also learned I need to state exactly how I’m feeling. Never, ever assume your partner knows what you need. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I say:
“Eric, I’m feeling really overwhelmed today. Could you please get the baby a bottle and lay her down for a nap? I need a minute to myself.”
This has been a game-changer for us. I am clear in what needs to be done, and what I need to be supported. He is always more than happy to oblige, and we both win!
Communication is a two-way street: listen to what your partner says as well!
I am always working on this…
When my husband says he is feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the kids, my first reaction is always I’M WITH THEM WAY MORE THAN YOU, PULL IT TOGETHER!
As you can imagine, this isn’t helpful. Try and listen to what your partner is saying as well, and support them as well as you can.
Make time for each other
Someday the unthinkable will happen…your kids will grow up and move out!
I know….it sounds like a nightmare.
And then it’s just you and your partner…now what??
It’s always been important to me and my husband that we have a relationship with each other outside of our roles as mom and dad.
Make time for date night, weekend getaways, or vacations alone. Maybe the kids stay at grandma and grandpas for a night here and there! Whatever it takes to get some time without distraction.
Talk about something other than the kids
Stay connected to each other, and get back to the basics of your relationship. What was life like together before all of the noise?
Talk about your goals, your hopes for the future, and what’s been going on in your life. When you aren’t acting as mom or dad, who are you?
Here are some topic suggestions:
- What is your dream job? Your partner’s?
- Goals for the next year? 5 years? 10?
- Your dream vacation
- Something that’s been on your mind lately
- Your favorite memory together
- Something you want
- Something you need
This takes some practice, because children become such a huge part of your life together. And it’s totally OK to talk about them, too. But sometimes it feels good to get back to the core of your relationship with one another.
All in all, there is a common theme here, and that’s the importance of communication. Learn how your partner needs to be communicated with, and tell your partner what you need as well.
It takes two involved parties to have a happy marriage, and that can often seem like a struggle after having children. If you can remember why you got together in the first place and continue to build on that foundation, your marriage will continue to get stronger and stronger.
Brace yourself for all of the awesomeness that is to come in your life, and get ready for the struggles as well. It’s an exciting ride, and you will make it through together!